Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Bellman and Black: A Ghost Story by Diane Setterfield

Bellman and Black by Diane Setterfield
I received this book free to review from Netgalley. I slogged through a bit over 60% of it before I gave up and skimmed to the end. I had hoped that the plot would redeem itself and become interesting and worth the time I had taken on the first part of the book. Sadly, it did not. The book begins with the story of William Bellman, a nice enough man who is a hard worker and does well in business. When his wife and 3 of his children die from a fever, he seems to make a deal with the devil - Mr. Black, for the life of his only remaining child, Dora, who, although she survives, is an invalid for the rest of her life and once it is certain she will live, Bellman pretty much ignores her. Bellman then opens a funeral business and becomes a total workaholic working himself, literally, to death, occasionally wondering where the mysterious Mr. Black is, so that he can share his business with him as he thinks he promised. In the end, we learn that Mr. Black is, I think, Bellman's memories of his life and of his loved ones who have passed on and Bellman has ignored them and worked so hard that he has neither enjoyed nor remembered the good times he once had in his life. There were also a lot of references to rooks - black birds like crows, and I think that was supposed to be some sort of symbolism or something. I do not recommend this book.

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